Over the weekend, the Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the provincial government intends to examine the ramifications of disentangling Alberta from multiple federal cost-sharing programs.
At a conference in Red Deer, Alta. on Saturday, he announced the formation of a panel that will consult on subjects such as whether the province should start its own pension system and attempt to withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan. It will also discuss the potential outcomes of the federal government’s proposed pharmacare program.
“The panel will consult with experts, hold open town hall meetings across the province and undertake research to inform their recommendations,” noted a release from Alberta’s government.
However, the release also said the premier’s priorities for the panel are almost solely aimed at bolstering the province’s fossil fuel industries.
Further, calling it a platform commitment yet to be fulfilled, it said the province intends to demand reforms to the employment insurance program, “to make it more fair to Alberta workers, who continue to subsidize unemployed beneficiaries in other parts of Canada, even though Alberta’s unemployment rate has been above the national average for four years.”
In response, Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley said in a statement that Kenney needs to “cut the theatrics,” adding the premier is deliberately stoking separatist sentiment and using tired ideas for his own political gain. “Jason Kenney never talked to Albertans about putting their pensions in jeopardy in the last election and Albertans cannot trust Jason Kenney to be anywhere near their retirement savings,” she said.